Press Release
July 27, 2021

Sponsorship of Senate Resolution No. 805 commending PH's first Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz
By Senator Pia S. Cayetano

I join my colleagues today in honoring the great Hidilyn Diaz.

A ticket to the Olympics is very rare. But the Olympic gold is reserved only for the best. I'd like to believe that when she took her first step and was on the Olympic stage in 2008, at the tender age of 17, that gold was already hung around her neck. Because we do not see all the preparation, the discipline, the perseverance, the daily struggles that go on every day, and that went on in the first few years leading to her first Olympics. So on that day, I believe that that gold was already hers. But it was not to be hung around her neck in 2008, not in 2012, not in 2016, but in the 2020 Olympics that was actually held in 2021, 13 years after.

How many people can actually say they can persevere and stay the course for 13 years? Thirteen years plus, plus - because she had been training before that. That is an unbelievable achievement, Mr. President; 13-plus years. So I show this (showed photo collage of Hidilyn Diaz's performance in 4 different Olympics), that's not mine, the source is there mentioned in the photo. In 2008, she was second to the last. She was 17 years old. So let's imagine, ganado pa. Nakatuntong naman siya sa Olympics, maybe hindi naman niya na-expect pang manalo noon. But then after training for 4 years, in 2012, she did not finish. That would wipe out the best of us. Four years, what do you do with your life in 4 years? You go to college, have a boyfriend, get married, start a business, help your family, and they do come from very humble beginnings. How do you stay the course?

But she did. And in 2016, she did take home a silver medal. But let me go back, what kind of pressure did she face all those years? Napagtiyagaan pa rin n'ya, tuloy-tuloy pa rin siya d'yan. And thus, we all know, very limited support. To believe in herself, and for the few people who believed in her, we need to honor them as well because she could not have done this alone. And she herself honors them all the time. I follow her on Instagram, and she is very liberal with her praise and gratitude for the people who have supported her.

So 2016, she wins her silver medal. And then the pandemic. Who would have thought, and obviously, her main competitor, whom she beat, is from China. And if you look at the photos, China's been pretty much back to normal. They're not like us, where we walk around with a face mask and a shield. They go out, they move around, I don't even know if masks are still used there because the pictures that at least I've seen, they seem to be living a fairly normal life. Yun ang competitor niya.

And this is what this woman has been able to achieve in the year 2021, in the time of COVID, my dear colleagues. It takes a lot to take that in, really. It takes a lot for me to even imagine what it required to do that.

And at this time, I also honor all the other athletes with her, who may not take home a gold, or a silver, or a bronze, but may be the next Hidilyn 4 years from now, 8 years from now, 12 years from now. And that's where I jump into my responsibility as your chair of the Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking. We do not spend a fraction of what the other countries spend to bring our athletes to the Olympics. Nothing.

There's an article I read that says P300 million per athlete. Sabi ko, medyo extreme naman yun. Then there's another article that said 2 million dollars per athlete. I don't think we spend that much. A far cry. So I am saying she did this without the kind of financial support that other countries are able to give their athletes.

And, Mr. President, I'd like to point out that she achieved this in the time of COVID. That image of her lifting all of that final 127 kg, the sheer weight of it on her shoulders, on her arms, the years of training and hardship, all showed on her face, in her eyes, as she delivered that elusive gold.

She also breaks the glass ceiling for female athletes. I'm not in her league, far from it, but even from my own experiences, I've had my own share of battles pursuing my passion as an athlete, as a female athlete. She never made excuses for her sex, despite being in a sport that is dominated by men. I can just imagine the kind of discriminatory remarks that she has had to endure as a female athlete. I don't even want to get started. The fact that she is 30 (years old), the fact that she has pursued this for half her lifetime, alam n'yo na kung ano ang mga traditional roles of women na binabato sa amin, binabato sa mga athletes na katulad n'ya when they make these kinds of sacrifices. Hidilyn, you break the glass for all the young girls that follow.

Kung ako lang nagba-bike ako, nasisigawan ako ng, "Uy, babae, babae." What you have done for all the female athletes and the little boys who will now honor their classmates, who will now honor their teammates, you do that for the next generation.

So I join my colleagues in honoring you today, Hidilyn Diaz, and your entire HD team - the coaches, the trainers, the nutritionists, the sports psychologists, the family that stood behind you and all your loved ones and friends, and all the other Olympians that we have. Sometimes, it is just not the right timing, but for you, Hidilyn, yesterday and the rest of your life, you will be known for what you have done for the Filipino people.

Thank you very much, Mr. President. Thank you, Hidilyn Diaz.

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